Sometimes we should just let the music do the editorializing. Just sit back and relish the greatness of John Barry's 1969 main theme for "Midnight Cowboy" and ponder why we don't hear music like this in contemporary cinema.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents this rare 1960 eleven minute industry promotional short that was sent to theater managers to explain the innovative ways they could promote Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho". Hitchcock personally oversaw the construction of the unique campaign that intentionally made seeing the film a status symbol. No one was admitted after the movie had started and large lines of ticket holders waited patiently for the next screening. Theater fronts and lobbies were decorated with extravagant advertising materials and Hitchcock himself provided recorded announcements to keep the crowds entertained. When no studio agreed to give "Psycho" the green light, Hitchcock financed the movie himself on a shoestring budget using many of the people who were working with him on his weekly T.V. series. The film became one of the top-grossers of all time and netted Hitchcock a fortune.
Frank Sinatra made his first appearance in The Sands, the legendary Las Vegas casino, as a young crooner in 1953 when the town was a microcosm of its present self. The Chairman of the Board would become synonymous with the place as the years passed. In 1960, Sinatra and his fellow Rat Packers- Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford- were filming "Oceans Eleven" by day and appearing on-stage at night in their sensationally popular, largely improvised "Summit" act which consisted of music and comedy. Sinatra's efforts on behalf of African-Americans helped integrate the hotels in Vegas and he was the town's major draw. However, Sinatra's mercurial temper also loomed large in outrageous displays of anger. When Howard Hughes took over the Sands in 1967, he cut off Sinatra's credit line (which apparently the crooner never intended to pay for). Sinatra had a hissy fit and went wild in the main casino before quitting the place to lend his talents to Caesar's Palace.
Writing on the Daily Beast site, Allison McNearney recalls the doomed love affair between Sinatra and the Sands. Click here to read.
They were two of the greatest acting talents of their time. But when Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh discarded their spouses and families to begin a torrid affair, it paved the way for scandal and madness. Olivier found himself seduced by the sexually aggressive Leigh, who worked diligently to help deconstruct his marriage, as well as her own. When the two finally married, the relationship became erratic when Olivier discovered that Leigh had been diagnosed with what would now be known as bipolar disorder. Her range of emotions varied wildly and as time wore on, her mental condition deteriorated to a tragic level. Writer Michael Thornton covers the tempestuous relationship for the Daily Mail and points out that Olivier and Leigh never fell out of love with each other- even after they divorced. Adding to the salacious aspects of the story, Thornton maintains that both Olivier and Leigh were actively bisexual and carried on affairs with members of the same sex. Leigh, however, fell victim to her psychological disease and would have quick sexual interludes with men she would pick up on the street. To read, click here.
In days of old, American movie audiences were often shown a charity promotional short for the Will Rogers Institute, which provided vital research into debilitating medical diseases. At the completion of the film, theater ushers (remember them?) would walk through the audience soliciting contributions for the charity. Many major stars cut promo shorts for the Will Rogers Institute. In this one, shown in the summer of 1969, Clint Eastwood makes the appeal following clips of action scenes from "Two Mules for Sister Sara" and "Coogan's Bluff".
Writing in The Daily Beast, Ron Capshaw addresses a long-running rumor that Errol Flynn may have been a Nazi spy. The largely debunked theory, which still intrigues Hollywood historians, revolves around Flynn's friendship with a man who was a Nazi espionage agent in the pre-war years. The two traveled together and considered themselves good friends. Letters written by Flynn were revealed to have contained anti-semitic statements and Flynn once insulted studio mogul Jack Warner in front on a film set by telling him that "We don't allow any Jews on the set". In one letter, Flynn even says that he wishes the United States had its own version of Hitler so that Jews could be taught a thing or two. By 1940, however, Flynn was routinely denouncing Naziism and when America entere the war the following year, Flynn even volunteered to work undercover as a U.S. espionage agent, though nothing came of the proposal. He also never saw his Nazi spy pal again after 1940 and began dismissing him as a "screwball". However, the U.S. government was still so concerned by the possibility that Flynn, too, was spying for Nazi Germany that they had him followed and investigated. For more click here.
Here's another batch of rare TV promotional ads, this time from 1966. Highlights include Adam West as Batman pitching savings bonds to kids on behalf of President Johnson so they can help support the Vietnam War (!); The Monkees in an ad for Rice Krispies, Elizabeth Montgomery in "Bewitched", Robert Loggia as "T.H.E Cat" and many more. Enjoy!
Director Sofia Coppola's revisionist version of the 1971 production of "The Beguiled" is winning critical raves.This has inspired writer Mike Scott of the Times-Picayune to look back at the original version of the film which was shot at a historic plantation near Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1970. The film marked the third collaboration between newly-minted superstar Clint Eastwood and his mentor, director Don Siegel. The article provides some very rare on set photos and an overview of the gothic Civil War drama that bombed when it was first released, though its stature has increased among film scholars in the ensuing decades. Eastwood fans who have never seen the movie are advised to do so. It represents a major achievement in his early acting career and he also plays an unsympathetic character, a rarity for him. Click here to read.
For an in-depth look at the film, order Cinema Retro's special issue "The American Westerns of Clint Eastwood" by clicking here.
Writing for the Film Comment web site, Mark Harris revisits how Antonioni's "Blow-up" helped usher in a bold new era of moviemaking even as it divided audiences. Some felt it was a work of genius while some mainstream moviegoers demanded refunds at the boxoffice. Nevertheless, this much is certain: the film was instrumental in marking a new era of screen realism and sexual freedom from its opening frames to its much-debated final scene.
The Guardian has rounded up an eclectic group of directors to weigh in on their own personal choices for the greatest film scenes ever shot. They range from the skeleton battle in "Jason and the Argonauts" to the car chase in "The French Connection". Click here to read the justifications for their choices.
Watch the original trailer for producer Euan Lloyd's superb 1978 adventure film "The Wild Geese". It's as sensational as the movie itself even if it falls into the common problem of divulging too many key scenes and plot points. They really don't make 'em like this any more!
CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE "THE WILD GEESE" BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION
Thanks to Nick Sheffo of Fulvue Drive-in web site for alerting us to this 23 minute compilation of American TV ads from the year 1977. It's a fun hodgepodge hawking everything from Ford Pintos (fire extinguishers not included!) to celebrities: Jack Nicklaus pitching American Express cards ("Don't leave home without it!"), Caroline Munro oozing over Noxema shaving cream, George Lazenby as a thinly-veiled James Bond being introduced to Sony hi-tech gadgets in a clever 007 spoof, James Garner and Mariette Hartley in one of their popular ads for Polaroid cameras, inimitable character actor Anthony James giving an endorsement to Mobile 1 motor oil, actor Paul Burke for Radio Shack, Cicely Tyson for RCA color TVs, James Coburn in cowboy gear shilling for Schlitz beer and Ed McMahon endorsing Budweiser (yes, in those days, first-rate talents could promote third-rate beers.) Best of all, there's dear ol' O.J. Simpson, promoting Hertz, dashing through an airport at top speed- well at least faster than he moved in his slow-mo car chase. Coincidentally, another future "Husband of the Year" and murder suspect, the poor man's Brando, Robert Blake, turns up promoting STP auto additive. The ads are chock full of girls with Farrah hairdos, guys with wide colors and polyester suits, the miracles of cassette tape recorders, the Betamax and cars large enough in size to have fit comfortably in the Battle of the Bulge. Too bad they don't feature that other great innovation of the 1970s- canned wine.
With all the controversial films that were released in the 1960s it's hard to imagine that "The Sound of Music" (yes, that "Sound of Music") would have emerged as the center of a protest. However, in this case the protests weren't against the film itself but rather that it represented too much of a good thing. Turns out that by the time the film hit its 53rd week at the Moorhead Theater in Moorhead, Minnesota, the students at Minnesota State University had enough of nuns and Nazis-- they just wanted a new movie to play in the town's theater. What's truly remarkable isn't just that "The Sound of Music" instigated a student protest but that there was an era in which a theater could still reap profits from the 53rd consecutive week showing the same movie. Our crack team of researchers hasn't been able to find out if the student's demands were met and if "The Sound of Music" went on to play at the Moorhead Theater. The people we feel most sorry for are the theater staff. Can you imagine being an usher and seeing the same film several times a day for over a year???-
“Beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena,
stronger than Hercules and swifter than Mercury!”
By Joe Elliott
Woman is one of the true wonders of comic book fandom. She first made her
appearance during the Second World War and more than 75 years later she’s still
going strong. Throughout the decades she has been transformed numerous times,
yet through it all she has for the most part maintained her basic form and
personality, one driven by a thirst for justice and in defense of the
defenseless. Born of Amazonian royalty, she is Princess Diana of Themyscira, a sub-continent
located somewhere in the blue mists of time, also known as Paradise Island. Her
mother, Queen Hippolyta, is the ruler of this all-female happy domain, a
position that Diana herself will presumably fill one day. That is, until a man
shows up. Steve Trevor, a U.S. Army pilot, literally drops out of the sky, and,
badly injured, into the care of the Amazons. Trevor is the first male Diana
ever sees and she immediately falls head-over-heels in love. She is eventually
chosen to fly the convalescing pilot back to Washington in her invisible plane
where she enlists in the fight for “America, the last citadel of democracy, and
of equal rights for women.” She at first disguises herself as Steve’s
caretaker, the demure nurse Diana Prince. However, it isn’t long until she bursts
upon the public scene as the tiara crowned, red bustiered, magic lassoed,
“Amazonium” braceleted, kick-booty female warrior we all know and many of us
love. She will spend the rest of the war fighting the Axis powers, along with
an assortment of other bad actors. Following the end of the conflict her job
description broadens out to include a greater variety of crusader of justice
duties, along with a few weird detours here and there.
Created by psychologist William “Charles Moulton” Marston (yes, a man!),
Wonder Woman was given a special mission from the start. Marston believed there
weren’t any real female superheroes that young girls could look up to and
emulate. "Not even girls want to be girls so long as our
feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power,” he is quoted as
saying. Wanting to change this, he came up with the idea of a female comic book
character who had all the physical strength and moral courage of a Superman or
Batman, but also was smart, intuitive, and, yes, sexy. In Marston words, a
super hero with “the allure of a good and beautiful woman." In addition to
all her other qualities, Wonder Woman was also compassionate and caring, traits
perhaps more easily expressed openly by a woman than a man. She was, in short,
the best of both worlds. Above all, she was a strong woman who, though she
considered others’ advice, in the end always made up her own mind about how
best to act in a situation. She might love dear ol’ Steve, but there were
moments when she realized he was wrong and so acted accordingly. And while she
has definitely seen her ups and downs through the years, the decade of the Sixties
being, I think, an especially problematic one in her long illustrious career,
as she, along with millions of others, searched for a new personal identity
(and a stable of writers), she nonetheless endured it all and remains today a
contender; one truly worthy of the appellation “Super Hero.” Her broader
cultural influence is also noteworthy, inspiring many as she has, including a
little Ohio girl and WW fan-atic
named Gloria Steinem.
Wonder Woman has continued to evolve and change in terms
of her appearance and, to some degree, personality; gifted or saddled, according
to how you look at it, with a bewildering array of modern storylines by a
myriad of agenda-centric artists. She is about to be reincarnated yet again,
this time on the big screen, in Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot in the title
role. Whatever else they do with the character, I fervently hope the filmmakers
will endow this newest WW with the qualities that first made her great and
defines the essence of that greatness. According to actress Lynda Carter, who
singlehandedly pirouetted into motion a new generation of WW fans, “she’s the symbol of the extraordinary
possibilities that inhabit us, hidden though they may be.
that, I think, is the important gift Wonder Woman offers women. Perhaps our
real challenge in the 21st century is to strive to reach our potential while
embracing her values. Wonder Woman is fearless. She sees the good in everyone,
convinced they are capable of change, compassion and generosity. She’s
kindhearted and hopeful, and she has a great sense of humor. Who knows? Maybe
she really can save the world.”
Elliott, a writer and educator, lives in Asheville, North Carolina
You really shouldn't complain about having to clean out your garage because you never know what hidden treasures might be found there- especially if you are like many people whose garages have become storage depots that haven't seen a car in years. The Daily Mail reveals that a canister of film has been discovered in a garage belonging to the family of the late, great character actor Leo McKern, who co-starred with the Beatles in their 1965 film "Help!". The footage reveals McKern's home movies taken of the Fab Four horsing around on the snow-bound landscapes of Austria. Click here to read.
Joe Dante's addictive Trailer's From Hell web site presents the original trailer for the 1962 film The Three Stooges Meet Hercules, a fun but bare-bones production designed to capitalize on the Steve Reeves craze of the era. The trailer is narrated by film producer Michael Peyser, who recalls seeing the film as a kid. Peyser says that audiences were shocked to see how old the Stooges now were, since children had been used to watching their classic shorts in re-runs on TV. That may well have been the case for Peyser personally, since this was obviously the first Stooge feature film he had seen. However, by 1962, the Stooges had already released two previous features, Have Rocket- Will Travel and Snow White and the Three Stooges,both low-budget productions that were substantial box-office hits. Thus, audiences had readily accepted the older versions of the Stooges and Joe DeRita, who had taken over from Curly and Shemp. Over the next three years, the Stooges would make three more feature films and have cameos in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Four for Texas. Click here to view and while on the site, make sure you check out other vintage trailers, all amusingly narrated by contemporary directors and producers.
Woody Allen's landmark comedy "Annie Hall" is forty years old. The film won the Best Picture Oscar as well as Oscars for Woody Allen for Best Director and Diane Keaton for Best Actress. Writing in The Guardian, Jordan Hoffman pays extensive tribute by analyzing the film's 40 funniest bits. Click here to view.
From the August 1968 issue of British Photoplay, Ingrid Pitt gets her first major break in films when she is cast by director Brian G. Hutton and producer Elliott Kastner in the MGM WWII adventure Where Eagles Dare starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.
In this 1995 segment from Turner Classic Movies, Martin Scorsese pays tribute to the American Western and examines such classics as "The Searchers", "The Naked Spur", "The Left-handed Gun" and "Unforgiven".
This portion of the movie section from a 1966 edition of The New York Times indicates just a portion of how many fine movies were in release during a single week. Among them: "The Ipcress File", "Thunderball", "Darling", "The Hill", "The Slender Thread", "A Patch of Blue", "Bunny Lake is Missing", "Viva Maria!", "The Pawnbroker" and a Beatles double feature: "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help!". Those really were the days!
Joe Dante's Trailers from Hell site presents screenwriter/producer Larry Karaszewski's insightful appreciation of the little-seen and long-forgotten film "The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker" from 1971. Based on the novel by Charles Webb, who also wrote "The Graduate" (and who also directed this film), "Stockbroker" stars Richard Benjamin as a young man who is successful in business but no so successful in his personal life. He's got a beautiful wife (Joanna Shimkus) but he suffers from a psychological obsession with voyeurism. The film looks at his dilemma from a comedic standpoint but the underrated movie also provides plenty of insights into the human psyche and the way we deal with relationships. Benjamin is terrific as the every day guy whose obsession causes him quite a few problems. There are fine turns by Elizabeth Ashley and Adam West, whose amusing performance reminds us of how foolish Hollywood was to alienate him after "Batman". Sadly, the movie was only released on video in the early days of VHS and has not resurfaced since except for an occasional showing on Turner Classic Movies. Hopefully, this will be rectified and we'll get a Blu-ray release at some point.
Francis Ford Coppola is a visionary director, obsessed in his determination to make films his way- or at least he was. Nowadays, Coppola has contempt for the suits in the corner offices of big studios who simply want to crank out the next super hero movie. He seems content to simply concentrate on his other great passion: running his successful wine business. Back in 1976 Coppola began the agonizing quest to bring "Apocalypse Now" to the screen. The experience over the next three years almost broke him emotionally, physically and financially. That the film turned out to be a masterpiece seems even more impressive when one views the brilliant 1991 documentary feature film "Hearts of Darkness", directed by Coppola's wife Eleanor, which chronicles the day-by-day agonies Coppola experienced as the budget soared the production inched toward completion. In these excerpts, we see Coppola's frustration with two of Hollywood's great mavericks: Marlon Brando and a zonked-out Dennis Hopper, playing an appropriately zonked out character.
CLICK HERE TO ORDER "APOCALYPSE NOW" SPECIAL EDITION THAT INCLUDES "HEARTS OF DARKNESS"
I wasn’t one of
those people. And while I never thought about it back then (I was just a little
kid), later when I had time to reflect, I realized that, far from being a
complete waste of my time, growing up
watching 1960s television had, in fact, been a great gift to my life. Granted,
much of the programming back then, as today, was little more than junk food for
the mind. Still, stuffed amid the junk were some real treasures, ones that
nourished both the mind and the soul. I believe one of these was the Daniel
Boone show, which ran on NBC
from 1964 to 1970. Starring Fess Parker(1924-2010)
in the lead role, the series featured the adventures of legendary frontiersman
Daniel Boone. Others cast members included Patricia Blair as Daniel’s wife,
Rebecca, Darby Hinton as his young son, Israel, and Ed Ames as his, pardon the
expression, “boon companion” Mingo.
Every week viewers
could see Dan involved in fighting the British, making peace with the Indians,
or doing battle with moral wrongdoers. Each show ended usually on a high-note,
with friends and family united and enemies’ vanquished. All and all, not unlike
a lot of other “family shows” of the era. Except this one was a little
different. To begin with, the character of Boone as Parker portrayed him,
wasn’t exactly your typical John Ford or Howard Hawks western hero. While he
possessed all the traditional qualities of the type (courage, resourcefulness,
personal honesty and physical strength), the creators of the show added
something to the stock: human compassion. For while Dan was as quick with his
fists as he was his flintlock, ready for a fight at the drop of a coonskin cap,
he was just as quick to turn the other cheek and offer forgiveness to a former
foe. What’s more, he went out of his way to help others, especially those
weaker and more vulnerable than himself.
In one episode titled Hero’s Welcome, which
first aired in 1968, one of his old friends, a man named Simon Jarvis, has
fallen on hard times. Simon, a former war hero, suffers a fall from grace when
he is accused of cowardice in a later battle against the Choctaw Indians.
Taking solace in alcohol, Simon loses both his family and self-respect. By the
time Dan finds him, he has been reduced to lying in a half-fetal position on
the floor, suffering from what seems to be a form of PTSD. Dan slowly nurses
him back to health, doing everything from shaving him when he’s too weak to
hold a razor, to gently tucking him in bed at night. He even teaches him a
soothing mantra to say to himself when the night terrors are upon him. In
addition to helping Simon, Dan forcefully defends the honor of his good friend
Mingo, who is half Cherokee, against the attacks of a group of racist bullies,
the same group who unjustly accuse Simon of cowardice. Training his long rifle
on them, he says quietly, “he’s as good as any man here.” That one line,
perhaps as much as any, embodies the attitude of the show.
Add to this the
fact that Daniel and Rebecca’s marriage was not your usual “father knows best”
variety. Dan looked to his wife for help and advice, trusted her implicitly in
all matters and was immensely proud of her independent spirit. Together, they
shared equal authority and responsibility in raising their children.
And while none of this may seem especially earth shattering
to us today, we must remember that back in the 1960s ideas about marriage, race
and masculinity had changed little in the country in two hundred years. Nowhere
was this truer than the part I grew up in, the rural South. Fables of
friendship, racial tolerance and equality between the sexes that Daniel Boone showcased were gentle and
understated, but no less real and powerful for that. The moral and ethical
lessons I learned sitting in front of our little black and white set each week,
in an era of violence and social unrest, never left me. Instead, they helped
shape and inform my adult worldview, and, I dare say, the view of others;
little boys all over America, little girls too, who loved both Fess Parker and
the icon he portrayed. If didn’t
matter so much that the stories were largely the fanciful creations of TV
script writers. What mattered were the ideals and values those writers took as
their common theme each week. Back then, we seemed to be a nation reaching for
something more than mere wealth and power alone could define, and these stories
of civic charity and social inclusiveness, told in the guise of an adventure
tale, taught us that. Fess Parker taught us that. We learn to put away childish
things when we grow up. However, there are certain lessons we should never
Elliott is an educator and writer who lives in Asheville, North Carolina
CLICK HERE TO ORDER "DANIEL BOONE: THE COMPLETE TV SERIES" FROM AMAZON
Thanks to reader Mark Jarman for sharing this with us- British Pathe film archives silent footage reel showing film marquees in London in 1976. Here is their official description:
Cinema signs in London.
Various shots sign outside the Empire for 'To The Devil a Daughter'. Various
shots Jacey cinema advertising 'Bisexual'. Various shots Leicester Square
advertising 'The Man Who Fell To Earth'. Various shots Cinecenta. Various shots
Odeon advertising 'One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest'. MS 'Operation:
Daybreak'. MS's Miss Fiona Richmond in 'Expose'. MS 'The Sunshine
Boys'. Various shots at Classic Moulin advertising 'I'm Not Feeling Myself
Tonight' and 'Housewives on the Job'. Various shots Odeon advertising 'Lenny'.
MS 'Return of the Pink Panther'. MS 'Emmanuelle'. MS's 'Jaws'. MS 'The
Hindenburg'. MS 'The Slipper and the Rose' at the Empire. MS's man behind sign
for 'Return of the Pink Panther' adjusting the wiring. MS's 'Love in a Women's
Here's a real rarity from some years ago: an officially licensed Steve McQueen Virgil Hilts action figure sold only in Japan back in the 90s. The Great Escape packaging is enough to make a collecting nerd out of any retro movie fan, especially when you throw in the optional U.S Army jacket patterned after the one McQueen wore in the film. The bad news: these figures sell for hundreds of dollars whenever they periodically show up on the collector's circuit. Now if they'd only make that Donald Pleasence companion figure! (Image from UK-based Metropolis Toys, which has a cool catalog of toys based on classic TV shows and movies)
Here is rare color footage of The Three Stooges in 1938, shot in Atlantic City New Jersey's famed Steel Pier. Moe, Larry and Curly vie for the affections of model Barbara Bradford, who was married to song and dance man George Mann, who shot the film and makes an appearance.
Movie poster artist Frank McCarthy was a legend in his field. Until his death in 2002, McCarthy had created, or collaborated on creating, some of the most iconic movie poster art of all time. The web site Dangerous Minds pays tribute to McCarthy's creations with a mind-boggling gallery of images from such films as "Thunderball", "Khartoum", "The Dirty Dozen", "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", "Hatari!", "The Great Escape" and many others.
American politics have always been contentious. When people pine away for the good old days of political civility, well...they just never existed. Going back to the early days of the republic, candidates routinely lied about each other and passed around unfounded scandalous rumors. Even "Honest Abe" Lincoln secured the Republican presidential nomination by having his minions literally bribe people to pose as delegates and pack the convention hall. One thing is for certain, however: the country is seeing its most vibrant protest movements since the late 1960s, when the toxic mix of Vietnam, civil rights, women's rights and other emotional issues seemingly had everyone at each other's throats. In a New York Times article, writer David Bianculli recalls how the Smothers Brothers became unlike vessels of the counterculture movement. The clean cut comedy duo was hired by CBS to provide gentle family humor (Tom and Dick Smother's shtick always revolved around sibling rivalry.) What CBS didn't expect was political satire the likes of which the network never imagined. Suddenly younger people had a TV show that was geared for them and the Smother Brothers set off national debates in barber shops, diners and the family dinner table. CBS didn't like it one bit. The network was the home of such popular, non-threatening fare as "The Andy Griffith Show", "Green Acres", "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Petticoat Junction". Now, CBS magnate William Paley was getting complaints from top politicians. That set in motion a delicate situation: CBS would routinely try to censor segments of the show, but by doing so they were undermining the very audience that had made it a hit. Compromises were made but the politicos were not satisfied when seeing guests such as Pete Seeger and George Harrison intermingled with safe, traditional stars such as Jack Benny. (Seeger sang "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy", a thinly-veiled protest song about the Vietnam War that the network tried to cut.)
Ultimately, CBS caved and cancelled the show in its fourth season, using a bogus excuse that resulted in the Smothers Brothers getting a $900,000 payout- big money back in the day. Although the brothers skewed to the political left, one of their first targets had been Democratic President Johnson, who was constantly attacked for his Vietnam policy. His successor, Republican President Richard Nixon fared even worse. Johnson had complained personally to William Paley but after leaving office, made peace with the brothers by acknowledging that satire was an essential part of American politics. As for Nixon, it was learned later that he had siphoned funds from one of his presidential war chests to pay for a private investigator to find dirt on the Smothers Brothers. He never succeeded and Nixon would resign a few years later in the most notorious political scandal of the 20th century. Perhaps the brothers' ability to make both Democrats and Republicans feel uncomfortable was their greatest talent. Click here to read and view clips.
For author William Peter Blatty's interview in Cinema Retro, see issue #19 in our back issues section.
BY LEE PFEIFFER
With the recent passing of "Exorcist" author William Peter Blatty, the Washington Post takes a photographic journey back to the origins of the story that inspired Blatty to write the book. In 1949 the Catholic church issued a rare consent order to allow an exorcism to be performed on a young boy who priests feared had been possessed by a demon. Doctors and psychiatrists have long speculated that the cause of the boy's affliction was rooted in natural medical explanations but the priests reported that they witnessed events that could not have been caused by any earthly phenomenon. The priests involved remained made few public comments after the exorcism, though there are some sketchy diary entries that shed a bit of light on the proceedings. The boy who was the center of the case is still alive and is now 78 years old but has never commented publicly on his ordeal or his memories of it, if any. Unless and until he does, there will always be debate about what actually occurred in an ordinary house occupied by an ordinary family who would inspire one of the most extraordinary novels and films of the 20th century. Click here to view.
Joe Dante's "Trailers From Hell" site presents director/producer Alan Spencer's spot-on analysis of Robert Wise's 1966 epic "The Sand Pebbles" starring Steve McQueen in his only Oscar-nominated performance. For our money, it's one of the great films of its era even if its depressing as hell, as some very bad things happen to some very good characters.
By 1965 Sean Connery was already growing weary of the James Bond phenomenon. The money was great but he never sought to be an international idol and sex symbol and never warmed to the experience of having the press and fans follow him about wherever he went. He also feared that he would be typecast as Bond and thus sought roles in films far removed from the image of 007. His first two attempts, "Woman of Straw" and Hitchcock's "Marnie" were critical and boxoffice failures. Connery had high hopes for his next non-Bond film, "The Hill", which marked the first of several movies he would collaborate with director Sidney Lumet on. A grim, brutal but superb movie, "The Hill" was hailed at the Cannes Film Festival and received great notices. Although the movie never clicked with mainstream audiences who eagerly awaited Connery's next Bond film, "Thunderball", the 1965 production has grown in stature over the decades. Not only does it feature Connery's first brilliant cinematic performance but he is matched by an equally brilliant supporting cast: Harry Andrews, Ossie Davis, Ian Hendry, Ian Bannen, Alfred Lynch, Roy Kinnear and Michael Redgrave. This original featurette shows the movie's enthusiastic reception at Cannes and the grueling challenges of filming it in the Spanish desert.
Regular readers know that every Christmas, Cinema Retro pays homage to Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, the Citizen Kane of all movies relating to Santa Claus battling creatures from other planets. The 1964 $20,000 wonder has been a cinematic legend among bad movie lovers. We're happy to present the entire film for your (guilty) viewing pleasure.
Wishing our readers worldwide a happy and healthy holiday season!
The web site "1966: My Favorite Year" unearthed this gem of a find: a children's record album released that year that featured Yogi Bear, the Three Stooges and a James Bond parody. Talk about something for everyone! Best of all, the site links to the entire album in audio format on YouTube. Click here to read and listen.
Writing in the Daily Beast, Wayne Curtis provides an excellent article about W.C. Fields' drinking habits on and off film sets- and how the habit not only enhanced his career but played a role in ending Prohibition.
Film historian Jonathan Froes has uploaded this trailer for the 1939 Universal monsters classic "Son of Frankenstein". According to Indiewire, this particular trailer was thought to be lost due to the fact that it shot on nitrate film. That film stock proved to be highly flammable, causing studios to ends its use and destroy countless prints of feature films and trailers. Indiewire says that horror film enthusiasts consider this to be a real find because it contains alternate takes and snippets of scenes not included in the final cut of the film, which featured a stellar cast: Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill. For more click here
Here's a rarity. An original rare CBS promotional film highlighting the forthcoming TV premiere of "Hogan's Heroes" a half century ago. You'll note the film also includes cameos by Fred MacMurray of "My Three Sons" and Alan Hale Jr. and Bob Denver of "Gilligan's Island". You'll also notice that the early version of the opening credits is much longer than the final version for broadcast and that there are some cast discrepancies as well.
The following news items were reported in Film Daily during the week of October 21, 1963
Stephen Boyd in "The Fall of the Roman Empire"
Paul Lazarus Jr., executive vice president of Samuel Bronston Productions, is lining up tours to the Bronston Studio in Spain for exhibitors who have expressed interest in (and booking) Fall of the Roman Empire. The trips, on which theater men will be on their own, especially for transportation, are expected to start shortly after mid-November.
Steve McQueen in "the Great Escape" (Like we really had to tell you!)
United Artists' The Great Escape rolled up $205,915 in the second week of its Golden Showcase run at 21 theaters in the greater New York area.
Arthur Kennedy, Victory Jory, Sal Mineo, George O'Brien, and Dolores Del Rio have been signed for key roles in Cheyenne Autumn Warner Bros. film which John Ford is directing.
Britain's Shirley Eaton will fill the sole femme part in MGM's Rhino in production in South Africa.
Executive Council of British Film Producers Association will support the move by the Association of Independent Cinemas to reduce the admittance of teenagers to "A" pictures from 16 to 14. Films classified as "A" by the censor are forbidden to children under 16 unless accompanied by an adult. Films tagged "X" are forbidden to those 16 and under while "U" films are for the entire family.
How the West Was Won has passed the 500,000 admission mark at the Warner Hollywood Cinerama Theatre, where the MGM production has grossed more than $1,000,000 since its opening October 21...Ticket orders are being taken into December and the engagement will continue indefinitely.
Swedish poster for "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"
Stanley Kramer and many of the stars of his It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World will appear on The Jerry Lewis Show, ABC-TV
November 2, the night before the UA Cinerama comedy has its
international press preview at The New Cinerama Theatre in Hollywood.
If you wonder why we at Cinema Retro consider the 1960s the true "Golden Age" of movie making, just take a gander at this page from a Canadian newspaper in 1966 and consider the diverse number of popular films that were showing during the same week: Dean Martin as Matt Helm in "The Silencers", James Coburn as "Our Man Flint", Hayley Mills and Rosalind Russell in "The Trouble With Angels", "The Sound of Music", a reissue of "A Hard Day's Night", "Carry on Cleo", "McHale's Navy Joins the Air Force" and reissues of Vincent Price in "Tomb of Ligeia" and Richard Kiel in "Eegah". We're not making the case that these were all classics but we will make the case that they were all fine entertainment- which is why films such as these live on in the pages of Cinema Retro magazine.
We've long extolled the virtues of Sidney Lumet's 1964 screen adaptation of the Cold War Doomsday novel "Fail-Safe", which centers on an accidental order to launch a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union. The film was cursed on any number of levels, however. Lumet had a very small budget to work with and the film was delayed from release by Stanley Kubrick, who feared that it would tarnish his own Doomsday classic "Dr. Strangelove" if it were released first. Ultimately, Kubrick pressured Columbia, the studio behind "Strangelove", to buy the distribution rights to "Fail-Safe" and keep it on a shelf until "Strangelove" was out of theaters. The result was disappointing box-office returns for Lumet's masterful achievement, but the film has grown in popularity over the years. Director Joe Dante is also a fan of the film and provides some interesting facts about its production as a commentary over the movie's original trailer. It all appears on Dante's "Trailers From Hell" web site, along with hundreds of other trailers with commentaries. Click here to view.
In 1976 Frank Sinatra hosted a CBS television special: "An All-Star Party for John Wayne". Among the guests was Charles Bronson, a man who made few public appearances and made even fewer speeches. Here he pays sentimental tribute to Wayne, who surprisingly he had never met until that evening.
Director John Badham dissects the original trailer for John Ford's "Stagecoach" starring John Wayne in his star-making role. Here is his analysis from Joe Dante's "Trailers from Hell" web site. By all means, check out hundreds of other classic trailers reviewed by filmmakers and historians by clicking here.
With the sad news about the passing of former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Cinema Retro presents the film trailer for "Hellcats of the Navy", the 1957 WWII adventure that marked the only time that Mrs. Reagan (then still known as Nancy Davis) appeared on screen with her husband and future president Ronald Reagan.